The Honourable Commissioner for Information, Culture and Home Affairs, Katsina State, Alhaji Gide Sani Batagarawa, has said that our indigenous languages are treasures of inestimable value and any attempt to undermine them is capable of costing the nation unquantifiable damage.
Batagarawa was speaking as Chairman at the opening ceremony of the one-month Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme (NILP), organized by the North West Zonal Office of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), on Wednesday, September 5, 2012, at the Conference Hall, New Katsina Motel, Katsina State.
According to him, the consistent and untiring effort of NICO to champion the cause of safeguarding our indigenous languages by teaching selected languages annually, is laudable, saying if the programme of the Institute is supported by all concerned, it can turn around, not only the fortunes of languages safeguarded, but Nigeria as a whole.
He further said although learning languages cannot be qualified in material terms, it is one of the few mediums through which mistrust among people can be ameliorated and peaceful co-existence engendered between our diverse people, maintaining that if NICO language programme can be sustained, it does not only stand a chance of entrenching peaceful co-existence, but also economic prosperity to our people.
Also commending NICO, for its continued efforts towards resuscitating some of our fast fading indigenous languages, the Head of the Civil Service of Katsina State, Alhaji Muhammad Lawal Aliyu, mni, who was Guest of Honour at the occasion, said NICO needs to be supported and encouraged to be able to bring to fruition, the noble objective of making our languages the centre-piece of interaction and communication.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary (Admin), Alhaji Dalha Rufai Adamu, the Head of Service maintained that language, which is the most indispensable component of our culture and self-identity, is a veritable tool through which our values can be transmitted to the younger generations in our society, stressing that it is duty bound for Nigerians to accord indigenous languages the prominence they deserve.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Executive Secretary, Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, who was represented by the Director, Research and Documentation, Mr. Louis Eriomala, reiterated that the one-month intensive language programme was initiated as a response to the disheartening situation concerning the status of languages globally and our indigenous languages in particular.
According to him, the opinion of experts on the rising rate at which Nigerian languages are steadily being endangered portrays a situation, where most indigenous languages will be extinct in the next three decades, with about 90 percent of languages estimated to be replaced by dominant ones by the turn of the century.
Ayakoroma, who said the Institute is proud of its modest achievements over the past few years, especially, with the language programme, which is designed to create a sense of pride in our indigenous languages, foster national pride and identity and encourage the need to preserve our indigenous languages, maintained that NICO acknowledges the fact that a lot still needs to be done to save our languages from extinction.
He therefore called on Governments at all levels to, as a matter of deliberate policy, encourage the use of our indigenous languages in legislative business, education and the media, among other measures, towards supporting language revitalization programmes, and also charged parents to live up to their expected role of ensuring that their children speak our local languages, as they are key to the sustenance of our indigenous languages.
Other dignitaries present at the opening ceremony were the NICO North West Zonal Head, Alhaji Ibrahim Hussaini, the Father of the Day, Alhaji Muhammed Mayaki, the Guest Lecturer, Professor Manir Mamman, and the Executive Director, History and Culture Bureau, Katsina State, Alhaji Tyjani Umar, among others.
© Nico News